COMPLETING A VILLAGE SQUARE
WINE, FOOD AND COMMUNITY
“Pico is the most beautiful, the most extraordinary island in the Azores, with a beauty all of its own, a remarkable colour and a strange power of attraction. It is more than just an island – it is a statue that rises up into the sky”.
Raul Brandão, Portugese writer
I am interested in the unusual beauty of the island; it’s colours, the vernacular construction traditions and the island as an object in the Atlantic Ocean. Furthermore, I want to explore the idea of designing for an island with a history of self-sufficiency and isolation.
The island has an interesting colour palette: The black basalt and the surprisingly green vegetation, with the ever-changing colours of the sorrounding ocean. When the sun hits the sea just right, one is almost blinded by the reflection and what you see is a sharp shade of white. The sun also tints the island with a wide range of warm hues as it sets over the island, before the sky turns to a deep black. The intense black of the night is something one never sees in urbanised areas of the world, only reminding the visitor of how secluded the island is.
The colour palette continues to surprise, when one notices the vernacular architecture. Mostly built in basalt with timber roof structures, the buildings are seemingly dark and subtle. However, the clay used to shelter the inside from winds, is of a crisp white. Additionally, shutters, window frames and doors are often painted in bright colours. Red, green, blue and yellow seems to break up the blackness of the basalt and are one of the few purely aesthetic aspects of the residential architecture on the island. In churches and some public buildings the black and white are used in a more decorative manner, and creates a graphic visual identity that sticks out in the landscape.
Standing on the Northeast side of the island, the view of S. Jorge is clear, even on a foggy day. Moving to Madelena on the Northwest tip of the island Faial seems so close that you could swim across the ocean to reach it. It’s only when one moves to the South side of the island, that the visitor can begin to understand how remote the island really is. There is nothing cluttering the horizon with many thousand miles to either of the surrounding continents.
The architecture of Pico is still at an elementary stage, where nothing is unnecessary, and stone is intimately linked to man’s actions. As Eduardo Souto de Moura said about Pico, “the island functions as a machine”. The work that had to be done to fertilise this land, is nothing short of remarkable. Until recently, the island has been entirely self-sufficient, proving that humans can live a truly sustainable life without complicated technologies. The idea of this project is to propose a building that incorporates the tradition of self-sustainment while attempting to elevate the architectural language of necessity.